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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Thursday, August 03, 2006

It was the voice, which caught my attention. It came from inside of the church, and it was quite obvious that the person had identified me because I was greeted by name. It was just after one in the afternoon, and at that time the churchyard was completely deserted. I was using it as a short cut to get back to my school. I had noted, however, that the side door of the church was slightly opened and this was unusual for that time of day.

As I entered the silent building, I recognised the young police officer who sat slumped in the pew closest to the door. I was startled by his gaunt appearance and disturbed by the sad, haunted look in his eyes.

There was an aura of quiet desperation about him. I became deeply concerned. His story was straightforward. He was, he said, allowed to use the church as he desperately needed a place to sort himself out, to think and to reflect on what was happening in his life. The parish priest, out of concern for his well being had encouraged him to use the church as a quiet place to retreat.
Personal crises, very often impel us to seek refuge in places where we can be alone – a quiet place of solace where we can reflect privately. Sometimes, we seek out quiet places where we can simply relax and be refreshed. It is another way of giving ourselves a little holiday away from the hustle and bustle of daily living.

In last week’s Gospel (Mk 6:30-34) Jesus called his disciples “to come away to a lonely place to rest” from the hard work and the crowds. ... It happened to Jesus and his apos-tles and likewise it will also happen to us. The crowds returned. In fact the crowds were already there in the lonely place that Jesus and the apostles had sought. Jesus’ response was to have pity on them “because they were like sheep without a shepherd.” Then he began to teach them.
During, the months that followed that initial meeting, I continued to keep in touch with the young officer. It was an extremely difficult period in his life.

He needed all the support he could get. Perhaps the greatest support he received came once again from another parish priest who set aside time from his own hectic parish schedule to guide and counsel the young man.

… About a year later, the young man greeted me. He was standing, this time, in front of the church. He exuded warmth and goodwill. Looking up into that glowing face I recognised a new man, one who had once again been restored, revived and rejuvenated.”by Dianne Diaz With thanks to

posted by Sinead Reekie at 11:09 am